Dallas Frazier, the singer-songwriter behind "Elvira," died Friday (Jan. 14) at age 82.
Frazier was born in Spiro, Okla. on Oct. 27, 1939 and raised in Bakersfield, Cal. By age 14, he had a regular gig performing on live radio and a deal with Capitol Records.
His first taste of songwriting success came from "Alley Oop," a novelty rock hit in 1957 for the Hollywood Argyles.
He moved to Nashville after his gig in California alongside Ferlin Husky on the Hometown Jamboree ended in the late '50s.
Frazier's mark on country music history began in 1966 with two releases: his debut album Elvira and "There Goes My Everything," a Grammy-nominated solo write by Frazier that was made immortal by Jack Greene. "There Goes My Everything" later became a pop hit for Engelbert Humperdinck and a Top 10 country single for Elvis Presley.
Frazier compositions of note include the first No. 1 hits of Charley Pride ("All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)," a co-write with frequent Frazier collaborator A.L. "Doodle" Owens) and Tanya Tucker ("What's Your Mama's Name," a co-write with Earl Montgomery).
Others to cut Frazier's songs include George Jones ("If My Heart Had Windows"), Emmylou Harris ("Beneath Still Waters"), Gene Watson ("Fourteen Carat Mind"), Connie Smith (72 Frazier compositions) and fellow Oklahoma native Merle Haggard ("California Cotton Fields").
"Dallas got to where he kind of knew me and knew the way I sang and knew the way I thought, and he's written a couple of songs of mine that he wrote about me, like 'Where is My Castle' and 'Just For What I Am.' That was an honor," Smith told Wide Open Country in August. "But he got to where he knew how I sang, and I like a demo when someone pitches it to me that's just... Dallas would be playing the piano, stomping his foot and singing. That was all that was on the demo. I like that because if I like the song, I thought, 'Well, I know what I want to do with that.' Now they pitch you a demo that is so elaborate that you want to say, 'Well go ahead and put it out. It's done!' I like something that I can create because that, to me, is what recording is. It's a new creation."
Perhaps Frazier's finest moment came in 1981 when The Oak Ridge Boys made "Elvira," a barely-charting single for its writer in 1966 and Rodney Crowell in 1978, a crossover hit that helps define the quartet's run of commercial success.
"Dallas Frazier is among the greatest country songwriters of all time. He could convey infectious fun with 'Elvira,' and then write something as stunningly sad and true as 'Beneath Still Waters'," shared Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, in a Facebook post. "His songs helped Connie Smith to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was a man of kindness, generosity and faith, who overcame a hardscrabble upbringing to offer smiling gifts to all of us. He lived a beautiful life of a beautiful mind."
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